I moved from the backroom to the front room of Henry Street today with a mission: to transform the unattractive cinder-block columns. I grossly underestimated the time it would take to complete all three, but I finished two in high spirits. I'm beginning to feel like family here at Henry Street. I got patted on the back several times by the seniors who remember me, greeted by name by the workers, and received delightful smiles. "You're back!" The man with the cane from yesterday was back watching. I even attempted a Spanish joke with the elderly women who were closely watching me paint the first column. As I climbed the ladder I announced, "Soy alta ahora" (I'm tall now) only to have the ladder wobble under me. Six sets of hands rushed for the ladder, the joke quickly forgotten. Luckily the ladder and I stayed in one place; false alarm. The members of HSS continued to look out for me, bringing me water, a muffin, and numerous compliments when they realized I had worked through my lunch break. Talk about a rewarding sense of community...
Column One: Jungle Waterfall
Not everyone's respect came easily. One elderly Chinese man decided to inspect my work in-progress with a critical eye. So intensely did he gaze at my progress that I began to feel nervous. "No good" he said. He went back to his table and drew a picture of a waterfall on the back of a receipt. Of course, when the painting isn't finished, it won't be all that good; but I decided not to tell him that. Instead, I continued on my way, painting and praising his sketch (I reached for it, as though to reference his genius, but he wouldn't let me hold it). When eventually, he said, "good", I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Everyone should have a wise, Chinese master to apprentice themselves to, and I suppose I found mine.
Column Two: Chinese Water Garden
Tomorrow I go back to finish the third column and hopefully find a way to hide the ugly AC unit.